I first presented some of these ideas in The World of Dark Shadows #67-68, in 1994. I have of course done considerable rewriting--and hope I haven't screwed up in the process. I haven't looked at my tapes lately.
Amid the wild profusion of events in Dark Shadows' 1897 storyline, it's easy to lose track of a central question. Just how did Barnabas save David and prevent Quentin from becoming a ghost? What was the crucial change he made in the past?
As I see it, the answer is a cruel one. Barnabas succeeded in his mission by chance--when he did accidentally what he never would have done deliberately. What was it? Indirectly, he caused the death of his beloved Rachel Drummond! In the fight against Laura, Barnabas thought it necessary to make her ally Dirk Wilkins a vampire. And Dirk took his revenge by having his entranced victim Judith kill Rachel.
Why was the inoffensive Rachel the key? In the original history, when Tim Shaw fled Collinsport, taking the Hand with him, he also took a living Rachel. She dissuaded him from coming back for revenge. So Count Petofi didn't recover the Hand before his time ran out, and he died. Charles Delaware Tate also died. Quentin's portrait was never completed, and he never learned what it had been meant to accomplish. He remained a werewolf.
Unfortunately, Petofi died while he was possessing Jamison, and his spirit tried to live on in the boy. To get Angelique to save Jamison, Quentin had to promise to marry her. Jamison condemned him...and Beth murdered him.
Angelique tried to bring Quentin back to life. (She had probably done it before, even in this history. In any case, we know she had the power.) But now Petofi's spirit tried to possess Quentin's body. In the end, the only way to thwart Petofi was to seal Quentin's body in his room. Angelique, and whoever else was involved, undoubtedly hoped they'd trap only Petofi's spirit. But he in fact had the power to leave at will, and they wound up trapping Quentin's spirit.
In light of all that, it's understandable that Quentin became a vicious, probably insane ghost. As a thank-you for the noblest deed of his life--agreeing, for Jamison's sake, to marry Angelique--Jamison condemned him without giving him a chance to explain, and Beth murdered him. On top of that, his family and fiancee--for reasons he probably never understood--denied him proper burial and sealed his body in his room, trapping his spirit there. And as if that weren't enough, he was trapped for 70-odd years with the cloyingly sweet, loving ghost of his killer. Beth's spirit was presumably free to roam at will; but she chose to stay there, and Quentin was stuck with her.
I think there was only one point on which Beth's ghost didn't tell Julia the truth: Quentin's motive (desire to win Jamison's forgiveness). It was clearly more than that. But Beth, herself obsessed with winning Quentin's forgiveness for having killed him, couldn't face the truth about what he'd become.
Quentin's ghost was actually out for revenge on the 20th-century lookalikes--possible reincarnations--of all the people who'd hurt him. He had a love-hate relationship with "Jamison"; for "Edward" and "Judith," he felt only hate. Above all, he was out to get Chris Jennings. Not for any reason connected with Chris's being his own great-grandson, or a werewolf--but because he assumed Chris was the reincarnation of Tim Shaw, who had doomed him by stealing the Hand!
One major problem: My theory requires the presence of Angelique in 1897. But in the history we saw, Satan only sent her to Collinwood when Quentin and Evan sought help in dealing with Barnabas. So how could she have been there in the original history?
Even aside from this scenario, I believe Angelique had to be there. In the revised history, Barnabas couldn't have defeated Laura without her help; but she might well have succeeded without him. Someone defeated Laura in the original history, and it can only have been Angelique.
How did she arrive on the scene? I suggest that with Barnabas not terrorizing Quentin, the will-forgery scheme was still in full swing on the night Jenny first escaped. Jenny surprised Quentin in his room and killed him. But here, Evan had a real motive for wanting him back. So he performed a black-magic ceremony (possibly with the assistance of Jamison), Satan sent Angelique, and she brought Quentin back to life--without any "zombie" shenanigans. Later, the Collins family convinced themselves Quentin had been prematurely declared dead.
A day or so later, Judith went to the Old House to evict the Gypsies--she assumed the whole family would agree on that--and caught Sandor working on the forgery, with the real will also in front of him. The forgery, designed for plausibility, divided the wealth and authority equally among Edith's four grandchildren. To get Sandor to tell her which of her brothers had commissioned it, Judith had to agree to let him and Magda stay on. So the forgery scheme was foiled, and Magda was still on hand to play her role in later events.
In the revised history, Barnabas's intuition told him Quentin's death at the hands of Jenny didn't solve his problem. He was right. If he had returned to 1969 and Angelique had never resurrected Quentin, the problem would indeed have been solved. But Angelique was already on the scene, and she almost certainly would have shown up to save Quentin even without Barnabas's prompting.
Yet another problem: If the skeleton the children found in Quentin's room really was Quentin's, what happened to Trask in the original history?
Once again, Angelique's having been at Collinwood in 1897 was crucial. In the revised history we saw, Trask learned Quentin was the werewolf, and was about to call the police when Angelique bewitched him. She forced him to write a confession saying he himself was the werewolf, and put a gun to his head. But then Petofi came in and stopped her.
Angelique's actions were the same in the original history, but Petofi was dead by then. His spirit was trying to live on; but with his plan for the portrait foiled, he had no reason to interfere with Angelique's attempt to help Quentin. So Trask shot himself, was "exposed" as the werewolf, and was buried in disgrace. Quentin was dead by the next full moon, and no one realized Trask had not actually been the werewolf.
Years ago, I see from my submissions to TWODS, I had "explanations" for even such trivial problems as the gramophone being in Quentin's room in 1968 when Judith had supposedly had all his belongings removed in 1897. Whew! I won't get into petty details like that now. But if any reader wonders what became of Petofi--or Quentin's portrait--after the 1897 storyline, my answers can be found in my fan fiction. (This is what's known as a plug!)
In Chapter 2, I'll discuss the even more mind-bending contortions of the show's 1840 sequence...